How to save money – and the planet – every time you purchase fabric by metre

Every small business wants to save money and be more sustainable. Does your business involve buying fabric and printing on it? If so, you need to know how to buy the best quality fabric by fabric metre you can find. 

To help you, we’ve put together a go-to guide on how to select the best fabrics for your business. We explain what you need to look out for when choosing and buying fabric. We also show you how you can be more sustainable in your fabric choices.

Points to consider when selecting fabric

Choosing fabric online involves several different points. Here are the most important ones to consider:

The quality of the fabric

First point to consider is the characteristics of the fabric – and the quality of the fabric is the most important point of all. So think about how long-wearing the fabric is and the composition of the fabric. Say you're considering buying 1m of 100% cotton fabric or more. You’ll be looking for smooth, breathable fabric. If you’re looking at a cotton/polyester blend of fabric (polycotton is one), the fabric will have its own particular qualities. That doesn’t mean that the cotton fabric is better than cotton/polyester fabric blend; it just means that each fabric is different.

But there are certain signs you can look out for to ensure the fabric is of a high quality. These include:

·      Colour: Of course, at maake we print designs and patterns on fabric in colour for you. On our website, we tell you how the colours will print on each base fabric we offer as some fabric prints stronger than others.

·      The weave: Check the fabric carefully to find out whether it’s tightly or loosely woven. Quality fabrics usually have a balanced mix of woven fibres with no gaps. Check out the fabric and the information on the fabric, which includes the strength, thread count and composition of the fabric.

·      The finish: The texture of your fabric should be as described in the information. Look out for uneven weaves, fraying, stretch and creasing in each fabric. This will give you an idea of the qualities of the fabric you plan to use.

·      Cost: When you're looking at fabric of exceptional quality, the fabric range is unlikely to be cheap. If the fabric is inexpensive, it is less likely to be of a high quality or finish.

 Let's talk about fabric quality, buying local and sustainability

At maake, we aim to offer a range of fabrics for all budgets. Whilst some fabrics might be cheaper, we never compromise on the fabric quality. We care about the final effect of the fabric itself. So plainer, more simple fabrics will tend to be less expensive. By the same token, more complicated fabric weaves and knits from more luxurious or sustainable yarns tend to be dearer.

·      The source: Make sure that your fabric comes from a reliable, sustainable source. If possible, buy local fabric. Choose a fabric manufacturer with an excellent reputation for quality fabric. Make sure you choose someone experienced who offers top quality fabric products.

·      The weight: Most manufacturers will indicate the weight of the fabric in gsm (grams per square metre of fabric). This usually depends on the type of fibre that makes up the fabric as well as the fabric weave. Check out whether the fabric is lightweight, medium weight or heavyweight and consider which fabric will best suit your product. As a guide, a lightweight scarf tends to be around 70-90 gsm, a shirting/quilting weight cotton fabric between 125-150 gsm and a heavy canvas or denim fabric between 230-350 gsm.

Remember: a heavyweight fabric doesn’t always mean that the fabric is of high quality. The quality depends on the fabric’s suitability for the product you’re making. A finely woven fabric is often harder to get right than a course, heavy weight fabric.

·      Sustainability: Don’t only look at whether the fabric is manufactured locally. Make sure that the fabric manufacturer used sustainable methods to manufacture the fabric and/or print on it. That involves using no harmful chemicals in the fabric manufacture and dying process. It also involves doing everything possible to use less energy and water.

The type of fabric

Another important point to consider is the type of fabric you want. Choose either natural fabric, synthetic fabric or a mix of the two fabrics. 

Natural fabrics are those made out of 100% natural fibres, such as cotton, linen, silk, denim and leather fabrics. Synthetic fabrics include polyester and rPET (recycled polyester), jersey fabric, nylon, rayon, viscose, pvc and acrylic fabrics. 

When it comes to quality, remember: natural fabrics tend to be more expensive than their synthetic fabric counterparts. Fabrics that are a mix of both natural and synthetic yarns are priced accordingly, too.

At maake we offer our customers a special fabric sample service. You can order a fabric sample book which gives you an insight into our wide selection of fabric options, including natural fabric, synthetic fabric and a mix of both fabric types.

How does the textile print?

·      Once the fabric has a pattern or design printed on, check to see if the fabric colours fade or stay vibrant. This is an important point to consider when choosing fabric. 

Our informative fabric sample book not only gives you an idea of the fabrics that we offer; it also features a wide range of fabrics and designs, so that you can view the fabrics and get an idea of how well the design prints on particular fabrics. 

This is so important, so add fabric to your basket only after doing this. You need to be able to decide which colours print best on each fabric. 

·     Consider how different colours print on the fabric you've chosen. With a fabric sample book, you can look at the fabric in your hand, not on the computer screen.  You can see how the fabric looks in natural and artificial light. This is very important when choosing new fabric designs and colours.

When ordering sewing fabrics...

If you shop for fabric per metre online, remember the following. Make sure the fabric is the right choice before you place your order in the shopping cart. maake offers you the chance to order a printed fabric sample (20 x 20 cm) with your design first. Once you see the printed sample, you can order full fabric meters.

Very importantly, we charge by fabric size not design, so you can order 20 designs x 1m and achieve the 20m discounted rate. This allows you to be flexible and order only the amount of fabric design your business needs.

·      Take a look at how fabric designs and pattern print on each particular fabric. Choose fabric designs that will line up when you’re sewing your product together. You don't want the finished fabric item to look distorted or uneven.

·      Wash a fabric sample to see if it shrinks and creases, and how the colours react on the fabric after washing.

Why you should shop for fabrics by the metre

Most sewing fabric is sold per metre. It doesn't matter whether the fabric is for a dressmaking project or for a manufacturer to create different products. However, most fabric manufacturers don’t offer a viable minimum amount of fabric that you can buy. 

This is a pity. If you want your business to save money and be sustainable, you need to buy only what fabric you need and then have your fabric design or pattern printed on it. This is a great way to save on textiles and save the planet too.

maake believes in sustainable innovation and our focus is on minimising fabric and ink waste. We offer high quality fabrics for you to print designs on – and we print only the amount of fabric you order. This way, we ensure that none of the fabric in our factory is wasted, or lands up sitting on shelves. 

Unfortunately, no matter how careful a printer is, mistakes do happen. Sometimes the amounts of fabric printed are incorrect. Or perhaps the fabric doesn’t pass quality control (we’re proud to admit that this happens very rarely). But when it does, and printed fabric is returned to us, we don’t resell or restock the fabric. 

We recycle the fabric by donating it to charity, universities and schools. Take a look at our page on social responsibility, which details our commitment to sustainable fabric innovation.

You can also read all about how we print sustainably on fabric in the UK.

Printing on demand is the sustainable choice

Print just the right amount of sewing fabric with us (a fabric measure that is anything from 1m upwards to 1000m+). This way, you’re saving money, water, energy and waste. This is how your fabric business, whether it’s large or small, can be more sustainable.

All the fabrics we use for sewing are ethically sourced and bought from trusted mills in the UK wherever possible. This is to reduce our carbon footprint and assist the local economy. The fabric mills that we work with are all REACH accredited and many also hold SEDEX accreditation

When we print designs or a pattern on these sewing fabrics, we use sustainable printing methods. These require 95% less energy than traditional fabric printing. The fabric printing inks we use are Oeko-Tex 100 certificated and meet GOTS 6.0 requirements ( for cotton inks). These fabrics are also safe for kids (EN71-3 certified).

The printing processes we use for all fabrics use 95% less energy than traditional fabric printing. maake also uses only 100% renewable energy resources and very little water when we print on fabric. When we print cotton and linen fabric, we use no water at all. We also use less than a thimbleful of ink waste per 100m fabric printed. 

Click here to upload your own design and start printing

"Being able to work with a business that you can print on demand made a massive difference in my business and how I operate. It gave me a lot more flexibility" –

Sian Thomas, Sian Elin